Friday, July 21, 2017

Lucky Stars Challenge Quilt

It's now or never for my Bayberry Quilters of Cape Cod challenge quilt... two weeks to go! Last year was light on entries and they made a call for more in the last month-- I couldn't possibly make anything that fast! So I decided to make one this year-- the theme was perfect for me. This year they have a whopping 34 entries and I can't wait to see what everyone did.

The challenge theme is "Lucky Stars" and I LOVE stars. Plus, one of the suggested themes was the famous poem "Sea Fever" by John Masefield. John and I go away back-- I had to memorize and recite his poem for a tenth grade speech class. Being the shy teenager I was, it did not go well-- I am still thinking about it 40 years later. But when I saw the poem on the Lucky Stars challenge list, I was AMAZED that I still remembered the entire first verse and much of the rest of it too! Now ask my where my purse or car keys are...

There's a bunch of techniques I wanted to try and this challenge was the perfect vehicle for that. It's a very manageable 25" x 25". First of all, I've really wanted to try English paper piecing. So I decided on clam shells for the waves-- I loved it! The points I was able to create are death defying-- you'd never get them on a sewing machine. I will definitely be English Paper piecing again.

Then I wanted to make a compass star. I love piecing, and I flatter myself I'm good at it. This is something that's been on my bucket list-- again the perfect opportunity to try one. RESULT-- I am cured of my desire to make a whole quilt of these. I did draft it and paper pieced it, which is probably the most precise way of doing it. Points. again, were right on, but fortunately my star didn't have to go all the way around because it would have ended up at about 387.3 degrees.  Then I tried twice to embroider the numbers on the edge-- my math must have been off, (I DO know the difference between radius and diameter, people!) it kept coming out way too small. I was getting discouraged and ready to quit the challenge until my daughter gave me a pep talk on how beautiful my star was.... and after all, Sir Edmund Hillary won't need this compass to find the headwaters of the Nile. Once I gave myself permission to be less than perfect it went together quickly. Just ignore that south is a little south'-south'-west as we mariners say.

The last thing I wanted to do was something with turned edge appliqué-- a ship. The ships are always my favorite blocks on Baltimore Album Quilts and I will confess, after seeing "Master and Commander" multiple time, I made it through six or seven of the Aubrey/Maturin books by Patrick O'Brian. I've been practicing with Appliquick tools and they were everything I'd hoped. Plus, a class with Karen Kay Buckley gave me new respect for stitching the edges by machine-- I previously considered this "cheating." Well it's not cheating when you have a deadline! I'm still hoping a good soak in the tub will take out some of the needle marks, though.

The last piece is the border, which of course has the embroidered poem. This is destined for display over my mantle-- I have a model of the US Constitution and I need something behind it. I am so happy with how it is coming out-- and more quickly than I'd dreamed, too.

The piece will finish up with some cute details--a reward for those who look closely. I'm planning little golden dolphins splashing in the waves, and Old Glory flying from the topmast! Then the quilting will be free motion, and this piece is already telling me exactly how it wants to be quilted-- I love when my work gets chatty and I don't mind being told what to do.

The show is in Harwich on Cape Cod on August 3rd-5th-- and, BIG NEWS-- drum roll please, we are doing our first ever booth. So if you are on the Eastern seaboard this summer stop by and say hello. We're testing items that will ultimately find their way--at last-- into brick and mortar shops. It's been a ton of work this summer, but we're excited to grow. There are a tons of artists in this group and the show will not disappoint-- "A New England Album" will be on display. And there will also be a contest to memorize and recite the John Masefield poem in front of a large audience for fat quarters. 



Friday, July 7, 2017

Vermont Quilt Festival Part II

     The Vermont Quilt Festival just may be my favorite quilt show. One reason, the drive up is spectacular-- it's also located near Burlington on Lake Champlain which is a beautiful town to tool around. The show is unjuried; all you need do is mail in your entry on February 1st and they will take the first ones to come in. Each work is judged on its own merits, not against the others, so you can have multiple first places in the same category. And you get a three page critique from the judges at the show's end. It's a great place to start if you want to show quilts.

     We arrived in Vermont quite late (see the previous post, lol) and missed the awards ceremony. But were still on time for the preview. Actually, my friend Tere and I had such fun on the way up, I was feeling like a ribbon for my "New England Album" could not really improve the day. But being an award winning quilter herself, Tere understood the need to find the "baby" first-- and there it was...

... with a little spot of blue!! I don't mean to be ungrateful having done well at the shows and bringing home some red and yellow... but this is the FIRST time I've ever been FIRST in anything... yes, I was third in my high school class, second in my junior high spelling bee, then there was a spate of honorable mentions, etc, etc. I felt so happy!

    Now we were free to wander the show and here are some of my favorites-- I have to say, quilting is one sport where everyone should get a participation ribbon because everything, absolutely everything, was so beautiful.

Let's start with Best of Show-- it was IMPOSSIBLE to get a good shot of the whole quilt because of all the buzz, but here's a detail shot. Yup, those basket strips are about 1/8" wide. All hand quilted. All because Barbara's friend Carol gave her some embroidery floss so she wanted to use it! That is love.
"Thread's of Friendship" (Carol's Gift)  Barbara Korengold

 The show theme was "Colors of the Seasons" and this quilt only represented Christmas, but what is not to love about snow globes. All embroidered, too! The quilting was exquisite.
"A Turquoise Christmas" Jolene Lewis
    I fell in love with this from across the room.. and first I thought the hexies were appliqued on white, but NO! It was entirely made up of hexies and they are less than 1" wide. Watercolor quilts are somewhat out of vogue now, but I love them. I voted for this one "Viewer's Choice."
"Granny Pink's English Garden" Jennifer Billard
 We just finished "Le Petit Jardin" Sew-a-Long, and this won best miniature. Exquisite. Love the prairie points.
"Le Petit Jardin" Christine Wickert
    Having an ice skating daughter, I learned to love the winter, mostly because I sat in an ice rink all summer. Beautiful snowflakes here. I am not sure that Norma Ippolito machine embroidered or longarmed the detail snowflake, but you couldn't tell because it was so perfectly done.
"Sapphires on Snow" Norma Ippoilito

    Once you finish ogling the show quilts, you might feel like you are finished, but no.... there is an entire hall on the other end of the building with special exhibits.

    This piece was in Katie Pasquini Masopust's Life Work exhibit. Coming from an art background, I loved her painterly approach in fabric! This puts to rest the idea that quilts are craft, not art-- the Museum of Modern Art could display this person's work, with pride. I was able to catch her walking tour the next day.
Graffiti V, 2015, Katie Pasquini Masopust

   The Vermont Quilt Festival always shows vintage quilts each year, and I enjoy this part immensely. This year, they focused on stars, which I mentioned before, I LOVE. None of these quilters ever imagined the honor they would receive, because none bothered to sign them. :-( They were just identified by the current owner and a generic name.

  Get those labels on the backs of your quilts, people! The say it's not a quilt till it's quilted, but I say, it's not finished until it's labelled!

Maine Star c. 1885 Collection of Debra Grana

Touching Five Stars c. 1902 Collection of Sharon Waddell

Seven Pointed Lone Star c. 1900 Collection of Sharon Waddell

     Nancy Prince was a guest lecturer. If you follow the show circuit, a winter scene like this won Best of Show in Houston a couple of years back. She thread paints these little scenes with so much heart, it makes us all yearn for the past. The siding on the little house was made of flanges-- perfectly done.
"Longing for the Past" Nancy Prince

The teaching staff always puts their own piece in the show. This is Kimberly Einmo's "Cathedral." Gorgeous. I took a class with her at MQX East last year, and if you ever have the opportunity to, grab it. Kim is all heart, has really made piecing a science. I loved her story of how her dad wanted her to be an engineer and was disappointed when she didn't pursue it. But then she invented her own rulers, and he was one proud papa-- I bought all of them! XOX

Loved this portrait. It amazes me how pixelated pieces like this look like abstract art up close, but then you back away, and Grandma emerges. A loving tribute to a real person.

"Sky Blue Pink" Cathy Brown

Back at the main hall, I noticed Tere had kind of a pained expression on her face, which you might have thought was from exhaustion. I asked her what was wrong and she said, "Not everybody got a ribbon!"

And we lamented the fact that every one deserved a ribbon-- quilting is a sport where, YES, I do believe in participation ribbons. But I have been in the judging room and have witnessed three exhausted people hopelessly trying to put a number on that which is sublime. 

So here's my own category "Priceless."
"Flowers from the Ashes" Judith Barden

"Mustang's Midnight Freedom" Run Karen Kay Hopkins

"Parking in London" Wendy Sanden

"Snippets and Scraps Sampler" Kristin Bahn

After two hours, the expression on both our faces was pained and this time, it was really pain! The show was closing and we went back to check up on the "baby" and say goodnight... and we saw this! 

A spot of purple...

    A special award ribbon had been added to my quilt! I couldn't believe it... 

    Tere gave me a big hug, and then seeing the gesture, a stranger came over to look... none of us even knew what the award was for, so this person obliging went to find out... it was "Best Use of Machine Embroidery" which, of course, is the one I have always dreamed of. 

     Then another person came over seeing the little commotion going on, then a person with a huge camera.... Tere was trying to take my picture with her cell phone... by this time I had a little audience so I didn't really know where to look... in the end, in Tere's picture I had my eyes closed and was looking at the floor. But no picture could have captured my feelings at that point-- the perfect day had suddenly turned into one of life's beautiful moments, and I wanted to share it with the world so everyone would feel that way with me..

We stayed through Friday and left for home Saturday morning and did this:

All in all, my best VQF ever!


Tuesday, July 4, 2017

New England Quilt Museum/Road Trip Part I

     I've been wanting to blog about the Vermont Quilt Festival since I got back-- the trouble is, there are WAY too many photos of gorgeous quilts! So I'm breaking it up into two photo heavy installments-- 
Part I: the road trip up, and Part II: theVermont Quilt Show.

     My friend Tere and I drove up from Cape Cod to Burlington, Vermont-- this is my third year in a row. The scenery was not the point this time-- the "Row byR ow shop Experience" had just started and we really wanted to do it. So we planned to start at the New England Quilt Museum and then visit 4 or 5 shops after that, as many as we could squeeze in.

     I have never been to the New England Quilt Museum in Lowell, MA -- I don't know why I assumed it was in an old building, but it was an absolutely fabulous, completely renovated space. 

   The main exhibit had some of the AQS winners from past shows. The top winners in the Paducah spring show are all purchase awards, and they must have quite a collection! I'm not really ready to give any of my "babies" up for sale, but fortunately that may never be a problem. Here's my favorite from the display:
"The Beatles Quilt" Sue Nickels and Pat Holly 1998

    I mean, couldn't you just see this on a teenager's bed instead of in a low-lit, air conditioned museum? If that had been on my bed, it would have 'rocked' my world... no doubt transforming me from a shy mess to the most popular girl in my class. It even makes me start liking pink! The blocks are all based on songs... can you guess which are my favorites?

We would be so happy, you 'n me! 
No one there to tell us what to do!

     Here are some other high points of the exhibit-- I'm not sure how I picked the high points in the show, when they were all high points, but here they are:

"Star Struck" Cheryl See 2011

Lord knows, I do love a star.

"Ricky and Lucy" Nancy Sterett Martin and Karen Sistek 2015

     If you're like me, you have seem some of these images in magazines many times. But to see them in person is a treat! You have no idea of the size of these birds and the detail- forget every feather being quilted-- every vein in every feather was quilted.

Likewise, I have never seen a Janet Stone quilt in person, but I feel a kinship for her love of typography after having trained as a graphic artist. The attention to detail in her work is phenomenal.
"Charm School" Janet Stone 2012

Just look at the quilting. And I can just imagine how much fun it must have been shopping for a charm for each letter of the alphabet. It appears to me she found all the same brand-- they are all gold and all the same-ish size. Only I would notice that. XOX

Here, she managed to make the same fabric look like two different ones by outlining the right side in thread. Yup. That scrolly fabric is outlined in thread. 

Another exhibit was called "Twisted" based on a book where artists had taken old quilts and updated them. I hope all my UFOs and machine embroidery test stitchouts find as wonderful a fate!

     At this point, Tere and I were already WAY behind schedule, and so we left, vowing to return. Did I mention the fabulous gift shop!!

Then we did this.

 If you don't know what the "Row by Row Experience" is, you need to find out! You visit different shops and pick up a free pattern for a row, then you assemble your quilt and there are prizes if you are first to do that at each shop. I never really intend to make a row quilt, but such a good excuse to support our brick 'n mortar shops! 

We went to 
Bits 'n Pieces, Pelham, NH
Pine Tree Quilt Shop, Salem, NH
Quilted Threads, Henniker, NH
A Quilter's Garden, VT
all of which were fabulous although I have to say, Quilted Threads had the biggest machine embroidery department! XOX

Here's a tiny portion of my haul:

By the 4th shop I thought I couldn't possible see anything else new, but each shop had more and more wonderful things and so I supported each $$$$ as best I could, haha. It's a wonderful testament to the health of our industry that all of these people are designing and selling all of these beautiful things.

Did I mention we were behind schedule? Because now we were beyond behind... at this point we would not make it to the Vermont Quilt Festival awards ceremony. I have to say, I did feel like ribbons and glory could not possibly make this day, filled with a good friend who loves sewing as much as I do, any better. XOX

... but stay tuned for Part II!